an English King visited Castletown
Tim Healy in his book Letters and Leaders of My Day (1928)
tells a story relating to the visit of Co. Galway, that the
wife of one of the men incarcerated since 1882 for the Maamtrasna
murders, fell on his knees before the royal pair, sobbing
that she was lonely for her man. Guilty or innocent
Healy writes, he had been twenty years in jail and the
Queen, touched by her sorrow, asked the King to telegraph
a pardon. Next day the prisoner was set at large.
However, the story is dismissed by Fr. Jarlath Waldron in
his monumental book on the subject, Maamtrasna, The Murders
and The Mystery (1992), who describes Healy as more
of a raconteur than a reliable historian. The release
of the last of the prisoners of that great miscarriage of
justice was, in fact, as a result of a visit by the Queens
Viceroy and his wife, Lord and Lady Dudley the previous year,
when a number of the prisoners wives threw themselves
before the couple at Maamtrasna, and in the native tongue,
appealed for the release of their men.
An interpreter was quickly found to translate, with the result
that , after twenty years incarceration, the three remaining
prisoners were released the following day. In 1882 Timothy
Harrington had been in prison with some of the men convicted
of Maamtrasna murders, and was convinced that injustice had
been done and innocent people had suffered.
The mighty champion of Maamstrasna as Fr. Jarlath
Waldron described Harrington, started a long campaign in Parliament
and the press to have the case reopened, but to no avail.
In the election on 1885 the Irish Party joined the Tories
to defeat the Liberals, and the ex-Home Secretary, Sir William
Harcourt, described the junction as the Maamtrasna Alliance.
While travelling through Connemara, the car carrying the Royal
Party broke down, and they then continued on to Kenmare by
train, from where they went by car to Dereen, the residence
of the Marquis of Lansdowne. After launching with Lord Lansdowne,
the King proceeded to Castletownberehaven on August 1, where
the royal yacht Victoria and Albert was anchored.
There was great excitement in Castletown for the visit and
the crowds were arriving from early morning. Over two hundred
members of the constabulary were on duty in the town, and
the world renowned Constabulary Band entertained the crowds.
Five naval ships were anchored in the harbour to salute the
royal presence. The Constabulary Guard of honour was lined
up, and at 7.30 p.m. in the evening, with a light drizzle
falling, the royal carriage arrived into the town.
There was a great cheering as the King alighted from his vehicle
at the pier, accompanied by Admiral Poe, Lord Shelbourne,
and followed by the Queen and Princess Victoria. As the King
passed a number of children in shawls, he said to them, Oh
children, ye must be all wet, and Im so sorry for you.
Two of the children, Miss Mary R. Harrington, daughter of
Mr. Michael R. Harrington, J.P. Castletown, and Miss Julia
OShea, daughter of Mr. Denis M. OShea, Castletown,
then went forward and presented the Queen and Princess Victoria
with two bouquets, and kissed the ladies hands.
The other childrens names were Kathleen Hanley, Gerty
Flanagan, Maude Kelly, Kathleen OShea, Florence Dobbyn,
Julia OSullivan, Mary ONeill, Teresa Moriarty,
Belinda Harrington, Agnes Harrington, Mary J. Harrington,
Bella Murphy, Ada Curry and Ada Collins. An Address of welcome
was then presented by Rev. J.P.Mc Donnell and Mr. Denis F.McCarthy,
who were introduced to the King by Lord Shelbourne. The address
read: We the people of Castletownberehaven, beg respectively
to offer your Majesties a cordial welcome to our port.We gratefully
recognise and appreciate the kindly interest your Majesty
has taken in our country, and we gladly avail ourselves of
this opportunity of expressing our earnest wish that your
visit may be a pleasant one, and that you and Her Majesty
may long be spared to draw closer still the bonds that band
the scattered portions of your Empire.
The King then gave his reply: Gentlemen, I think you
for your cordial welcome and good wishes. The Queen and myself
have derived much pleasure from our stay in Ireland, and amongst
the warm-hearted people of the south, we count, upon a repetition
of our happy experiences in other parts of the country.
In the welfare of Ireland, I have a deep interest, which the
warmth of our reception will certainly not diminish. It will
be a great happiness to me if any effort of mine should help
to promote the contentment and prosperity of Ireland, and
to strengthen the ties that bind in unity and concord the
scattered people of my empire. As he handed the address
to Canon McDonnell there was great applause and three cheers
were then called for Princess Victoria.
The King bowed to the crowd, which as almost entirely composed
of townspeople, with some others from Milcovee, Waterfall,
Rossmacowen an Derrymihin. The Royals then departed by boat
for the Victoria and Albert and after boarding,
a royal salute was fired by by the fleet.
The yacht left the harbour at 3.30 a.m. on the following morning
and proceeded to Queenstown for the last stop of the tour.
A bronze commemorative medal was issued to every member of
the Constabulary on duty for the Kings visit. Constable
William Ruth, who lived in The Rock, West End, was on duty
at Castletown, and his medal was discovered in an attic a
number of years ago.
Sean OSullivan of Droum, writing in the 1970s
tells us that not everyone in Beara was so enthusiastic about
the royal visitors however. He wrote that as the carriage
was passing through the townland of Inches, on its way to
Castletown, one old woman was heard to remark: Twelve
years ago they would not have dared to pass this way!.
The visit of 1903 would be Edwards last to Ireland.
By coincidence Edward VII and Timothy Harrington the two main
subjects of our talk, died within a couple of weeks of one
another. King Edward died as a result of a series of heart
attacks on May 9, 1910, after returning from a visit to France.
The great Timothy Harrington died in Dublin on March 12, having
suffered a stroke in London three days previously. He was
in London to attend an important meeting in the House of Commons.
King Edward was born in 1841; Harrington was born in 1951.
Timothy Harrington was buried in Glasnevin, beside his leader
Parnell, the Uncrowned King of Ireland, and at
his funeral members of the Parnell Commemoration Association
each wore a badge of Irish poplin in green, white and orange.
draped in black, and surmounted on an ivy leaf.
Had he lived another six years he would have seen the tricolour
raised above the GPO and an Irish Republic declared by Padraig
Pearse. The dramatic events of the years 1916 to 1921 overshadowed
the achievements of Harrington and his fellow nationalist
parliamentarians, awww.hotmail.comnd banished them forever
to the dusty pages of old history books. They deserve more
gratitude than they were given.
Courtesy of the Southern Star